Moving can be overwhelming, especially for small children. They have to leave their friends, familiar routines, and the comfort of their home and community. However, with a little preparation, relocating can ultimately be a positive experience for children.
Tell Your Kids In Advance
Small children need time to process the move but not too much time to worry about the change. Tell them about one month in advance. Be sure to explain to them all the things that will stay the same and what will change.
Providing your child with a camera or smartphone and helping them take photos of their old home, neighborhood, and friends will allow them to say good-bye and receive closure. Collect the pictures in a booklet and include a photo of the new home on the last page. If possible, take them on a new neighborhood tour, including the playground and ice cream or candy shop.
If your child is very young, read stories about moving or acting out the scene with toy trucks or stuffed animals. If your new home is nearby and vacant, visit it frequently and take toys with you. When you pack toys in boxes for the move, stress that these toys are going with you; you are not throwing them away.
Allow your child to make some decisions about the move. Let them choose their room color. Or, have them decide which toys to place in the first box to be opened. Involving them gives them a feeling of having some control over what is happening.
Allow Them to Express Emotion
Small children lack the vocabulary to express their feelings to do so in other ways. For example, they may express anxiety by being overly clingy or through regressive behaviors. They may eat less and complain of stomach aches. Sometimes stress leads to poor sleeping, nightmares, or grinding teeth during sleep.
After the move, children may require six months or more to acclimate to their new location. During this time, they may whine that they want to go home, cry over friends they miss, or throw temper tantrums. Realize that this will pass gradually as your child makes new friends.
Establish a Routine
Establish routines in your new home right away. Keep bedtimes and mealtimes as close to those in the old home as you can. Resist the urge to buy all new things for the child’s room; instead, fill the house with familiar objects and continue to buy your children’s favorite foods. Familiarity will bring comfort.
Ask for Help
Packing boxes and interviewing movers when you have toddlers can be difficult. Friends and family often are willing to do more than you expect. Consider asking them to play with your child so that you can accomplish moving tasks on schedule.
Your children ultimately will take their cues from you. If they see that you are stressed, they likely will be too. On the other hand, if they know that you are optimistic about the move, they will sense that the move is a good thing. While it’s OK for them to see that you are sad occasionally, let them also see you manage that emotion constructively.
Let Us Help
Moving with a family is a huge undertaking. When you have young children, it’s even more challenging. We can help with your relocation. Contact us today for a quote. We can help.